Warner Bros. Loses Superman’s Past

Published 6 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 1:38 pm,

superman origins Warner Bros. Loses Supermans Past

In case you haven’t noticed, a legal battle between DC/WB and the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel¬† and Joel Schuster over the copyright to Superman has been raging for going on a decade now.¬† In recent months, a judge ruled that in 2013, the Siegel/Schuster heirs will own the full copyright to Superman – however, many of auxillary elements of character developed by DC Comics after Siegel and Schuster’s initial introduction of the character have remained on the legal battlefield. Until now:

Warner Bros. no longer has access to Superman’s origins.

Variety reports that on Wednesday, Judge Stephen Larson ruled that the Siegels now control a lot of Superman’s early history, including his brief infancy on Krypton, his parents, baby Kal-El and the whole “sent to Earth from a dying planet” storyline. The Siegels also captured ownership of early Superman comic-strips and early Superman/Action Comics issues.

So what does this mean for film fans?

Well, we already reported that DC/WB is facing a ticking clock: Judge Larson has already ruled that unless the two companies get another Supes movie into production by 2011, they will forfeit the opportunity to do so entirely and the full rights to Superman (including any depictions of the character on TV/Film) will pass into the hands of the Siegel/Schuster heirs. With this latest ruling, I guess those of us worried that DC/WB would attempt to do a reboot of Superman for the next film can breathe a bit easier: looks like we won’t have to sit through yet another all-too-familiar origin story.

krypton1 Warner Bros. Loses Supermans Past

Won't be seeing this from Warner Bros anymore...

So what CAN another WB Superman flick offer?

Well, the studio still owns the rights to a lot of auxiliary elements of the Superman universe, including Lex Luthor, Superman’s ability to fly, kryptonite (the term), Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s powers and the character’s “expanded origins.” Plenty of stuff left to craft a fresh and original (key word) take on the Man of Steel. Time to get creative.

What do you think – does this latest ruling further hamper the possibilities of the next Superman film, or will it force inspire an injection of much-needed fresh perspective on the character?

Source: Variety

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  1. Personally I’m happy to see that they can’t fall back on those story points (again). Now if ONLY Lex Luthor wasn’t available to them either, THEN I’d have some real hope for a fresh Superman movie…


  2. Lol @ Vic. Isnt it possible to Marvel to buy the rights to Superman as a whole and eventually make a film?

  3. *for

  4. I want a doomsday or imperiex movie, id like to see superman x in an imperiex story. Of course, theyd need a crazy budget to do those, and to do them right would probably be difficult.

  5. Just what does “expanded origins” mean?
    Stuff like The Eradicator?

  6. @Oscar

    Marvel buying the movie rights to Superman? Now THAT would be rich, wouldn’t it? :-P


  7. Iwouldn’t have been opposed to an origin film, as long as it was sufficiently different from the 1978 movie’s. Moot point now, though.

    If WB are really going to make this movie, and he can’t have any enemies who are after him for being Kryptonian/Jor-El’s son (Brainiac, Mongul, Zod, etc.) then make Intergang the villian, with B-list villians like Metallo, Parasite, and Livewire as superpowered flunkies to gang leader Bruno Manheim.

  8. Then there it is. Either do a follow up on Supey Returns (and using clever ways of killing off ‘The Kid’ or ignoring it =’hey, it’s really Earth 411 or Earth 999′ etc etc, those are random numbers, you know what i mean) or..

    a Superman movie which is a stand alone Superman movie and is made as if Superman visited an alternate eath by accident, comes to the real earth and finds no Supar- Kid or anything like that. He just has to fight Bizzarro or Darkseid.

    He just has to get on with it. Period.

  9. Hey, guys:
    Yeah Vic, you’re right, enough with the origins! Everyone in the theater will know what Superman is about. Now its time to really expand (and I don’t mean a Doomsday 2 hour slugfest either. YAWN! I cant think of anything more boring to me OR the general public who they REALLY need to fill the seats this next time around).
    The perfect Superman movie is characterization, action and HEART (something the Batman movies don’t really need to provide due to the nature of the character). Superman Returns DID come close.
    And Brandon Routh was fine in the previous movie. Warner’s just needs to ramp up pace in the next one (do the opening minutes of Lethal Weapon 2 come to mind?) now that all the reintroductions are completed.
    And face it, Superman Returns was not all Singer’s fault (I loved it!) Warner’s did not go blindly into that endeavor; they signed off on the script and it was their money. If there was ANYTHING they wanted changed, believe me, they would have said so!

  10. @Vic, just imagine him in an Avengers movie :) or a Hulk vs Superman film :)

  11. This pretty much settles it for me – no more Superman movies for me. The first Christopher Reeve movie is the definitive Superman movie for me and probably always will be.

  12. Any word on what this means to Smallville? No more Jor-El?

  13. Superman franchise is dead anyway. Why does it matter?

  14. As long as Super boy gets his own Comic book again and DC keeps on publishing Superman comic books and related materials without changing too much. I don’t care. It’s kind of like having Obama for President. Nothing I can do but go for the ride.

  15. Wow I’d say in legal terms Warner Bros is quite F-ed!!

    I’d still like to see another Routh Supes film with a better costume, No Luthor, Terrance Stamp Zod and Bay directing it (but with the implicit restriction that his writers not be allowed to pepper the film with Generation Stupid’s MTV-ish, Axe body Spray-ish hip hop and other inane youth pop culture references) Maybe Mark Waid could be enlisted to write it

  16. DC and the Siegels are co-owners of the Superman copyright until 2013. Basically, DC could still use his origins just that they have to pay the Siegels for it. The Siegel and Shuster family could take Superman elsewhere, but they can’t use the name because DC owns the trademarks for it. DC also owns the international copyrights as well.

  17. What does this mean for Smallville because it uses the history of Superman all the time?

  18. with that whole super kid its easy to see where they were going, and i would have loved it.

    with that storyline if im the writer i put supes against an unstoppable opponent, craft some sort of sacrifice theme and kill ole big blue off to the shock of millions of people.
    THEY practically showed us their vision when he should of died in returns. the kid was too young to take over though

  19. @Oscar
    @Vic, just imagine him in an Avengers movie or a Hulk vs Superman film

    I am with you on this one LMAO

  20. I see an alternate universe Superman on the horizon.

  21. This freaking sucks!!!! I hope the family causing all this crap starts to get hate mail from Superman fans!

    As for the movies, I utterly HATED Superman Returns, that darn kid, and above all, that GOD awful lifeless performance from Bosworth as Lois Lane!!!

    I’d give anything to see a reboot with a better cast and some freaking villains for crying out loud! Besides Zod & Co. why has it been so dang hard to bring in well known villains to these Superman movies??? ENOUGH with Lex and the whole real estate thing, what about Brainiac, Bizarro, even Livewire? It just seems hopeless anymore! :-(

  22. I’m pissed off. What the next movie NEEDS is a 21st century telling of Superman, origin and all. Similar to the Byrne version/Superman: TAS. And they could have Brainiac as the villain. This is ridiculous….

  23. this may cause Warner to leave their superman “comfort zone” of referring to the first two films, which they did in “returns.” And light the creative fire to turn out something great. On the other hand, the possiblity of Marvel having a chance at landing the rights to Superman is amazing, but nearly impossible.

  24. Siegel and Shuster will have the copyrights to Superman as he originally appeared in Action Comics #1, not the iconic one we know.

  25. Hopefully this will get Warner moving on to other popular DC comics characters… I couldn`t care less about Superman.

  26. Superman returns wasn’t the return of Superman at all! It was a boring movie and a sad story about a sissy loser with super-powers.

    Christopher Reeves’ Superman was a gentleman, but also knew how to kick butt. And even after 30 years, it’s still incredibly satisfying to see Superman 2, when he gets all his powers back and gets his and Earth’s revenge.

    That’s the kind of Superman I want to see. Someone kicking butt in the name of justice! Not an endless mess about how he has screwed up his life. The endless love between Superman and Lois is an interesting side story, and makes room for both romance and comedy, but let’s face it; it’s the butt-kicking we love.

    A good Superman film is easy to make: Clark Kent is funny and clumsy, and madly in love with Lois. Lois is madly in love with Superman, and thinks Clark is a goofball. Superman is the tough-guy that everybody is amazed about and love, and deals with injustice and crime. And there just needs to be some sort of a main bad guy, and it would be a good idea to put Lex Luthor to rest, since he was perfected by Gene Hackman.

    Maybe the best thing about the original two were the way they managed to build up expectations and excitement between the scenes. And how incredibly satisfying it was each time Superman arrived to save the day.

  27. TJ, you make a lot of great points. I think the Superman/Lois piece is so very essential in keeping us women interested. The butt kicking is a bonus!

    Honestly, I love how he is always so conflicted about her and how to live his life and how he is never able to tell her who he really is, it’s such a great love story. They need to give Routh another shot and either get a new Lois, or make her performance much better this time, I think she has it in her and maybe being a bit older now would help her.

  28. I don’t see the problem. All WB have to do is pay good money to use whatever ideas they want. If the family are happy with it they’ll just accept a payment and ‘license’ the origins (or whatever ideas they own).

  29. OK. Some reflection came my way, and you know, I was thinking, maybe they don’t HAVE to do the whole origin thing in the next film to get people ON BOARD with Superman. I wuldn’t do a sequel to Returns, but I’d have Supes at the beginning of his career, like maybe it’s his second month in Metropolis and go from there. Just tell a great, action packed story about corrupttion in Metropolois and Supes figuring out how things work and that Luthor (SUPPORTING CHARACTER!!!) runs everything. Throw Brainiace in as the big bad, focus on the reporter dynamic (very real world like, have the filmakers figure out what an actual reporter does, like have the Daily Planet be the only honest, non Luthor owned paper and have the reporters being bribed/threatened to not print/follow certain stories, that could be very interesting) and you got a movie. :-)

    Because the first Batman film didn’t do much of an “origin” at all, in fact, we didn’t get a “full origin treatment” for Batman until Begins, and several of the Batman films were very successful, people really liked the first film despite being mostly familiar with only the Batman tv show (i e knowing nothing about Batman). I’m speaking of course about the non comic book fans.

    Anyone else agree?